« ПретходнаНастави »
and waited anxiously for a bite, moving the bait in rapid jerks on the surface of the water in imitation of the leap of a frog. Nothing came of it. "Try again," said my uncle. Suddenly the bait sank out of sight. "Now for it," thought I; "here is a fish at last.”
4. I made a strong pull, and brought up a tangle of weeds. Again and again I cast out my line with aching arms, and drew it back empty. I looked to my uncle appealingly. "Try once more," he said; "we fishermen must have patience."
5. Suddenly something tugged at my line and swept off with it into deep water. Jerking it up, I saw a fine pickerel wriggling in the sun. "Uncle!" I cried, looking back in uncontrollable excitement, "I've got a fish!”
6. "Not yet," said my uncle. As he spoke there was a plash in the water; I caught the arrowy gleam of a scared fish shooting into the middle of the stream; my hook hung empty from the line. I had lost my prize.
7. We are apt to speak of the sorrows of childhood as trifles in comparison with those of grown-up people; but, we may depend upon it, the young folks do not agree with us.
8. Our griefs, modified and restrained by reason, experience, and self-respect, keep the proprieties, and, if possible, avoid a scene; but the sorrow of childhood, unreasoning and all-absorbing, is a complete abandonment to the passion. The doll's nose is broken and the world breaks up with it; the marble rolls out of sight and the solid globe rolls off with the marble.
9. So, overcome by my great and bitter disappointment, I sat down on the nearest hassock, and for a time refused to be comforted even by my uncle's assurance that there were more fish in the brook. He refitted my bait, and, putting the pole again in my hands, told me to try my luck once more.
10. "But remember, boy," he said, with his shrewd smile, "never brag of catching a fish until he is on dry ground. I've seen older folks doing that in more ways than one, and so making fools of themselves. It's no use to boast of any thing until it's done,- nor then either, for it speaks for itself."
11. How often since have I been reminded of the fish that I did not catch! When I hear people boasting of a work as yet undone, and trying to anticipate the credit which belongs only to actual achievement, I call to mind that scene by the brook-side; and the wise caution of my uncle in that particular instance takes the form of a proverb of universal application: "Never brag of your fish before you catch him."
JOHN G. WHITTIER.
LI. THE COST OF A POCKET-KNIFE.
1. A boy may use his good, strong jack-knife with but very slight ideas of its cost. If you should ask him, he would perhaps say "half a dollar." Stop your whittling a moment, my young friend, and let us look into the subject a little.
2. A knife does not come by nature, ready made. "But the iron does," you say. Yes, iron is found in the earth, but very seldom pure, or fit for the blacksmith and the manufacturer. It is mixed with clay or some other substance.
3. These substances must be separated from it by intense heat; no ordinary fire will answer the purpose. Charcoal is put into a furnace with the iron ore and some limestone; then the charcoal is lighted at the lower end, and wind blown on it by powerful machinery, and the great heat melts the whole.
4. The iron being heavier than the other matter settles to the bottom, where the workman at the right time lets it out. It runs like water, through the hole he has prepared for it, into furrows made in sand, where it cools. These pieces are cast iron they are called pigs of iron; but this iron must have other processes before it is fit for making a knife.
5. Cast iron can not be worked with the hammer, or sharpened to a nice cutting edge; it must be made into malleable iron for these purposes. Malleable iron is a kind of iron which, instead of melting in the fire, will soften, and thus allow itself to be hammered into the desired shape, or welded together smoothly.
6. But when the iron is made malleable by being heated and stirred and beaten or rolled, even then it is not nice enough for a first-rate knife- it is only iron; and you want your knife made of steel, so that it will bear a keen edge without either breaking or bending. To get that we must change our material again.
7. To this end the workman must cover up his iron in powdered charcoal and again give it a red heat, that it may get the property upon which the keenness of the knife depends. But he must be careful that the heat be not too great or too long continued, as then the steel could not be hammered or welded.
8. Steel must be tempered. To temper it, it is plunged, while very hot, into cold water, and kept there until it is quite cool. Then the workman brightens it, and, laying it upon a piece of hot iron, holds it to the fire till the color shows him it is in a proper state to be again plunged into water; and now it is hardened enough to be hammered into shape.
9. Then the knife-grinder takes the knife upon his immense wheels, which are turned by water or steam, and move so swiftly that they seem to almost stand still.
The grinding and polishing are quickly done by the aid of machinery. But you have only the blade of the knife now, and the handle is yet to be made and riveted on.
10. That handle may be fashioned from the tusk of an elephant, the horn of a buffalo or an ox, the wood of a cocoa tree, the shell of a pearl oyster or a turtle, or indiarubber; or it may, like the blade, be made of metal. So you see that it is not fifty cents, but labor and skill, that is the real cost of your knife.
Lord Macaulay, the great English essayist and historian, wrote these words:
1. Children, look in those eyes, listen to that dear voice, notice the feeling of even a single touch that is bestowed upon you by that gentle hand. Make much of it while yet you have that most precious of all good gifts a loving mother.
2. Read the unfathomable love of those eyes; the kind anxiety of that tone and look, however slight your pain. In after-life you may have friends-fond, dear, kind friends; but never will you have again the inexpressible love and gentleness lavished upon you which none but a mother bestows.
3. Often do I sigh, in my struggles with the hard, uncaring world, for the sweet, deep security I felt when, of an evening, nestling in her bosom, I listened to some quiet tale, suitable to my age, read in her tender and untiring voice. Never can I forget her sweet glances cast upon me when I appeared asleep; never her kiss of peace at night.
4. Years have passed away since we laid her beside my father in the old churchyard; yet still her voice
whispers from the grave, and her eye watches over me as I visit spots long since hallowed to the memory of my mother.
LIII.—THE ORPHAN'S PRAYER.
1. Not many miles from here, and e'en not many months ago,
When all was bound in winter chains, and covered thick with snow,
As night came down upon the plain, dark clouds hung o'er the earth,
And chilling winds swept o'er the scene in wild and cruel mirth,
2. A fair young child, with weary feet from wandering to and fro,
At last o'ercome with weariness, sank down upon
His tender form was thinly clad, though rough, bleak winds swept by,
And froze upon his cheeks the tears that flowed so mournfully.
3. They tossed the curls far off his brow, back from the eyes of blue
That gave such looks of suffering from out their azure hue;
Though none but God was near to mark the tears
that from them rolled,
While from his lips came oft the moan
so very cold."
4. A drowsiness came o'er his frame, and soon he
ceased to weep,
And on the chilling snow he thought to lay him
down and sleep;